Vancouver receives $300,000 to enhance urban tree canopy with job training program
October 11, 2023
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Urban and Community Forestry Program awarded a $300,000 grant to the City of Vancouver to increase tree planting capacity through a new workforce development project that provides paid job training for young adults. The grant-funded project will help improve the health of Vancouver’s urban natural systems, create green job opportunities, address climate change impacts and environmental justice, and enhance community health, safety and quality of life.
Studies show that trees in communities are associated with improved physical and mental health, lower average temperatures during extreme heat, increased food security, and new economic opportunities. Over the next five years, the grant will fund the creation of seasonal urban forestry crews who are trained to plant and maintain new trees and native plants along streets, in parks and natural areas in underserved neighborhoods of Vancouver. Tree canopy improvements are also planned for the city’s overburdened communities, which are likely to experience disproportionate impacts of climate change and environmental hazards as identified by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We are excited to build our green workforce by engaging youth in the exciting field of urban forestry and other green industry professions,” said Urban Forester, Charles Ray. “Planting more trees is an important step toward expanding our urban tree canopy but we can’t stop there. This grant will also help us maintain what is planted and ensure young trees receive the 10 to 15 gallons of water they need each week to survive and thrive during their first three summers.”
The USDA Urban and Community Forestry grant builds on the foundation laid by earlier grants from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources that provided an updated tree canopy study (2021) and supported the development of the Urban Forestry Management Plan (2022). Vancouver’s Urban Forestry Program pursued the USDA grant in collaboration with the city’s Naturespaces pilot program, which enhances and restores green spaces in the Vancouver parks system by preserving and expanding native habitat.
“We face real challenges responding to the impacts of climate change and some people feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do or where to start,” said Volunteer Coordinator, Hailey Heath. “I am grateful that Naturespaces and other environment-focused volunteer opportunities empower community members to act. This grant increases our efforts and invests in the next generation of sustainability champions through on-the-job training; this is a smart next step to build our community resilience.”
Recruitment for seasonal work crew positions is expected to begin in Spring 2024. Community members can volunteer with the Naturespaces program this fall at www.cityofvancouver.us/Naturespaces. For information about the yard tree giveaway program and to learn how to care for your trees, visit www.cityofvancouver.us/UrbanForestry.
The USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program grant was made possible through investments from the Inflation Reduction Act. More information is available on the Urban and Community Forestry Program webpage.